by Shane Ormond
On May 21, 2020
Target reported that online sales on an average day in April exceeded last year’s Cyber-Monday sale, because if you’re not going to buy a Cuisinart Perfectemp 14 Cup Programmable Coffee Maker at the end of the world, when are you gunna buy one?
- RiPTunes: Apple Axes Its 18-Year-Old Music Platform
- Trump Calls for Boycott of Major U.S. Company
- Sweden Loses Assange Extradition Battle
- Baltimore Was Hacked With NSA Tech
Apple Axes Its 18-Year-Old Music Platform
iTunes is dead.
Or, as one dramatic Forbes writer put it: “With one swift stroke, like a samurai warrior felling a worthy opponent, [Apple’s Craig Federighi] ended iTunes.” (Just take a sabbatical and write that YA novel you’ve always wanted to, David.)
Apple’s (AAPL) opening keynote at the developer’s conference, WWDC, marked an end to what was arguably the most impactful piece of software Apple ever released.
And just like a “samurai warrior” felled by a “worthy opponent,” iTunes will now be broken down into three smaller samurais that perform essentially the same function but separately.
The Good, the Bad, and the U2 Album Nobody Wanted
As an online market, iTunes might seem unremarkable today. But back in the Wild West days of the MP3, this digital music platform was the innovation that gave Apple the edge over its competitors.
No longer did you have to transfer the music from every CD you owned onto your MP3 player.
No longer did you have to navigate the unwieldy transfer process alone.
No longer did you have to scroll through the 15 different versions of the Shrek Soundtrack to get to that one Alicia Keys song you liked.
More than any other feature, iTunes is what made the iPod the iPod. (Except maybe that terrible time Bono forced everyone to download U2’s new album.) But in recent years, with the podcast boom and the advent of digital video downloads, the app has become bloated, slow, and unwieldy.
From here on out, the fallen samurai will be replaced by Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV. Each of which will perform the same functions as iTunes, but should be faster and “easier to use.”
And because an Apple keynote wouldn’t be an Apple keynote without the reveal of a ridiculously overpriced accessory that nobody asked for, the company announced a $999 monitor stand for its new $5,000 monitor (sold separately).
So unless you’re going to prop your new $5k monitor up with a bookstand and some gum, you better be prepared to fork over the cost of an entire mid-level laptop for a plastic stand.
Trump Calls for AT&T Boycott
President Trump called for a boycott of AT&T (T) yesterday, after being forced to watch 10 minutes of CNN on a diplomatic visit to the UK.
President Trump is in Britain this week, rubbing elbows with the Royals, putting London’s Mayor on blast, and (more than anything) not watching Fox News.
The president was upset (or as they say in the UK: “having a right wibbly wobbly”) that the only U.S. news source on British TV was CNN International — a version of CNN that features global news coverage.
And it probably didn’t help that the president’s favorite 24-hour news channel is unavailable in the UK. Fox News stopped broadcasting to the UK in 2017 because nobody was watching it.
After 10 minutes of not-Sean Hannity, Trump called for a boycott of AT&T, which recently acquired CNN’s parent company Time Warner for a cool $85 billion.
Despite everything, investors seemed generally unworried by the president’s call for a boycott. AT&T’s stock closed up 1.7% yesterday and continued to rise this morning.
Savvy investors know that CNN is just a small piece of this Texas-based telecom giant. And they are investing heavily in a breakthrough piece of tech that CNET is calling “the biggest thing since electricity.”
Just yesterday, AT&T and five other major companies invested $2.7 billion lock in their places for this world-changing tech.
In fact, even President Trump is privately invested in this stock (which he was forced to disclose as part of an investigation).
Tech investor Ray Blanco reveals the name of this very stock on page 38 of his new report, available for free right here.
Sweden Loses Assange Extradition Battle
A court in Sweden has ruled that Julian Assange does not “need to be detained” for a sexual assault investigation, hamstringing Swedish prosecutors ability to extradite the world’s worst house guest.
Assange has been avoiding extradition to Sweden for the last seven years by hiding in (and just generally kind of moping around) the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Sweden dropped its investigation in 2017. But it was reopened after Julian was kicked out of the embassy last month for skateboarding indoors and not cleaning up after his cat.
Assange’s Swedish defense lawyer, Per Samuelson, argued successfully that because Assange was so thoroughly locked up, he posed no flight risk: “He is in prison for half a year at least, and he is detained on behalf of the United States. So there is no point detaining him in Sweden too.”
Assange’s lawyers added that Assange “has always wanted to cooperate with the investigation.” (As long as his cooperation didn’t involve him getting out of his bed at the Ecuadorian embassy.)
Elisabeth Massi Fritz, lawyer for the woman who accused Assange of rape, pointed out that it was naïve of the courts to expect Assange to cooperate after seven years of very much not cooperating.
The court’s decision clears the way for Assange’s extradition to the U.S. where he’s been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and charged with 17 counts under the Espionage Act.
It’s unclear if the Swedish prosecution plans to appeal the ruling. Regardless, for now, the hacktivist/accused rapist will remain in a British prison (or clinky clanky as they call it) where he is serving a 50-week sentence for skipping bail.
ONE LAST THING
Baltimore Was Hacked With NSA Tech
It’s been a whole month since a cyber-attack infected and froze thousands of Baltimore City computers.
Some folks are just now able to access their emails (and catch up on all the chain emails they missed). However, many critical systems remain shut down with no expectation to reopen any time soon.
To date, the attack has cost the city $18 million in recovery costs and uncollected fees (that $100,000 ransom isn’t looking so bad now). And it will likely end up costing the city millions more before it’s resolved.
Authorities still have no idea who was responsible for the attack. But according to a bombshell report, the tool used to hack the system is a U.S. government cyberweapon developed right here in Maryland.
Codename EternalBlue was developed by government-funded hackers at the NSA HQ, just 15 minutes outside of Baltimore (right around the corner from the National Cryptologic Museum — entry costs just $15 and a permanent place on an NSA blacklist).
We don’t know what exactly EternalBlue was developed for (the NSA are notoriously not very chatty). But we now know the tech was stolen by a hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers in 2017.
The Shadow Brokers originally tried to auction off EternalBlue to the highest bidder, but the looming threat of an NSA investigation scared off all buyers. Instead, they released the cyberweapon online for free.
Since then, EternalBlue has been used in cyber attacks by North Korea, Russia, and China. Now, it’s worth noting that Microsoft patched its system last year to resist EternalBlue. But someone in Baltimore City government must have been putting off the Microsoft update requests.
It’s worth noting that a Baltimore City official has said that EternalBlue was not the cause of the attack. However, four separate sources who have been charged with recovering the data have said they found traces of EternalBlue in the Baltimore system.
Closing Data for 6/3/19
- Fed Chair Jerome Powell hints at possible rate cut, stocks rally on the news.
- Congress passes $19.1 billion aid package for areas affected by recent natural disasters.
- Quest Diagnostics reports close to 12 million patients may have had their personal info breached.